President Obama barely noticed, but there was a horrific mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday. In what has become a signature of this administration, a tone-deaf Obama pressed ahead with his plans to attack the Tea Party Republicans at an event marking five years since the financial crisis erupted.
After some perfunctory remarks of condolence, Obama commenced with what the Associated Press described as a “blistering warning to congressional Republicans.”
"I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants,” Obama said, according to AP’s Jim Kuehnenn. This was straight out of the Obama playbook. He was referring to those who want to defund the Obamacare monstrosity. Their plan would fund everything in the government, except Obamacare.
And that is “economic chaos,” says this president.
This dispatch made no mention of the attack’s timing next to a mass shooting. It was noticed on Fox News. White House correspondent Ed Henry reported on the timing for “Special Report with Bret Baier,” and offered this Obama clip: “Are some of these folks really so beholden to one extreme wing of their party that they're willing to tank the entire economy just because they can't get their way on this issue?”
Henry noted Obama even managed some trash talk about Obamacare and defeating Romney: “It was an issue in last year’s election and the candidate who called for repeal lost.” Henry added: “Asked today about the tone of those remarks in the middle of an active manhunt, spokesman Jay Carney said the White House did not consider calling off the speech and he said it was appropriate to keep the pressure on Republicans over the looming budget crisis.”
It was tasteless, inappropriate, and diminishing of the presidency. ABC, CBS, and NBC skipped over Obama’s refusal to let breaking news of a gun massacre deter conservative-bashing remarks. These were the same networks that went absolutely bonkers when Romney made what they saw as inappropriate political comments on the heels of the Benghazi attacks.
Other outlets were also staying in sync with the White House. On the “PBS NewsHour,” there was no conservative-bashing Obama clip, but government-subsidized anchor Judy Woodruff was clucking at former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson about the negotiating plans of “prominent members of your party” and whether the debt-ceiling vote was an “appropriate tool” to launch a debate on limiting government spending.
On “All Things Considered,” NPR’s Ari Shapiro offered one of his normal press-release stories on the economic event, complete with six Obama soundbites and no mention of the Navy Yard shooting. At the end, GOP economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin offered a bit of criticism: “It really was a bare-knuckles political speech. It wasn't an economic speech, and it certainly wasn't the opening of a negotiation.”
In the morning papers? The Washington Post reported the Nationals cancelled their evening baseball game, but offered nothing on Obama’s “blistering warning” in the midst of the attack coverage. The Wall Street Journal had nothing. The New York Times story by Jackie Calmes and Michael Shear (placed at the bottom of page A-16) just recounted Obama’s attacks without any mention of the Navy Yard. The story began: “President Obama on Monday seized on the fifth anniversary of the 2008 financial collapse to warn that House Republicans would reverse the gains made,” and cause “economic chaos,” and so on.
On MSNBC on Tuesday morning, Joe Scarborough called out his own network and the rest of the media. If President Bush had done this on the day of a mass shooting? “Mika would be killing George W., everybody here on this network would be killing George W., everybody at the New York Times would be killing George W. Every journalist in Washington, D.C. would be killing George W. It's unbelievable.”
The Politico website was milder, with the headline “In tragedy's wake, President Obama finds tone a challenge.” But Jonathan Allen and Jennifer Epstein expressed surprise that “He asked whether the GOP was willing ‘to hurt people just to score political points,’ even as victims were still being treated for actual wounds sustained in Monday’s attack. Obama even knocked Washington — the city under siege as he spoke — for failing to find ‘common purpose.’”
Politico reported the White House did get the message. Mrs. Obama predicted earlier in the day that the president would “shake his groove thing” at a Latin music event in the East Room on Monday night (for later airing on PBS), but that was postponed – “out of respect for the victims and their families,” the White House website announced.